Self-employed workers and SME owners have been urged to “give themselves time off” over the coming days as many are expected to file their tax returns over the Christmas period. New research showed financial fears have led to “sleepless nights” for 30 percent of SME owners in the past 12 months and as such, workers must prioritise their mental health tomorrow.
Christmas Day itself is among the most popular days for submitting the returns, with official HMRC figures showing the most popular time on December 25 for completing tax returns last year was between 2pm and 3pm, with more than 200 people submitting their online form during the 60-minute window.
However, with two-thirds (69 percent) of small business owners, approximately four million people, reporting that the pandemic has had a moderate to severe impact on their mental health, The Accountancy Partnership has urged business owners to make sure they also take a break during the festive period.
Lee Murphy, Managing Director at The Accountancy Partnership, commented: “While business owners are free to submit their Self Assessment tax returns any time before the January 31 deadline, it is important that they give themselves time off, particularly given the events of the past two years.
“The pandemic has taken a serious toll, and being mindful of your mental health is vital to help avoid burnout.”
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“While not everyone celebrates Christmas to the same extent across the country, we urge everyone to take a break and take advantage of the additional bank holidays we have this year.”
Taking heed of these calls could prove to be especially important over the coming days.
Additional research from The Accountancy Partnership found just one in 10 (12 percent) of those SME owners who have experienced issues sought professional help.
Mr Murphy continued: “It’s best practice to submit as early as possible to ensure you are not paying too much tax, and to avoid fines for missing deadlines.
“This year’s returns are likely to be particularly complex. Many businesses have used Government support during the pandemic, and this will take extra accounting for.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, commented on this.
She said: “We want to help customers get their tax returns right first time.
“We have videos, guidance and helpsheets available online to support you with your Self Assessment. Search ‘help with Self Assessment’ on GOV.UK to find out more.”
Self-employed workers should not underestimate the importance of completing their tax return correctly as new economic challenges, such as rising energy bills, interest rates, and cuts to universal credit, could see them face further difficulties.
The Accountancy Partnership warned along with the additional prospect of having to pay back part of a previous grant, these challenges could lead to serious solvency problems.
Mr Murphy concluded: “The time leading up to the tax return deadline is always a busy period for everyone, and against the current difficult business conditions it can feel almost impossible to get on top of financial affairs while securing the future of a business.
“Despite these challenges, it’s crucial to make sure financial affairs are in order to avoid overpaying tax, or being asked to return grants you have previously received. Those who do need to repay part of their SEISS grant will have received a letter from HMRC, so it’s important that this paperwork isn’t ignored or put to the back of the priority list.
“The effects of the pandemic, coupled with Brexit, gas prices, and supply chain issues mean that businesses really cannot afford to face a cash flow problem as there are no future plans for government financial support. Completing accounts and submitting them in good time gives business owners one less thing to worry about in the run-up to Christmas and at the start of the new year.”